Management and Administration
Budget and Finance
The Division of Budget and Finance managed the Commission's financial services. Its ongoing activities included maintaining a general ledger accounting system; ensuring that effective financial policies and procedures were developed and maintained to support mission operations and to take full advantage of available technologies; issuing accurate and timely financial reports to program offices, the Department of the Treasury, and the Office of Management and Budget; and providing oversight of services received from the Administrative Service Center. The Division also carried out Commission-wide management programs for audit follow-up and reviewed and reported on internal controls. The Division planned and carried out the fiscal year 1997 budget, supported the fiscal year 1998 budget request through Congress, and developed the fiscal year 1999 budget request.
In fiscal year 1997, the Division of Personnel coordinated an array of human resources management activities that included recruitment, position classifications, performance management, benefits, employee relations, labor relations, and training. During the course of the year, the Division worked with the various Bureaus and Offices to fill the positions vacated by employees taking advantage of the "early out" retirement authority. The Division continued its work with the agency's Partnership Council by facilitating training sessions with the Secretarial Forum. The Division also was active in assisting managers to improve the performance of their workforce by arranging a variety of coaching/mentoring services. The Division also continued to make enhancements to report formats generated by the Department of the Interior Payroll Personnel System, to make them more user-friendly for Commission staff. Planning was started during the later part of fiscal year 1997 for a conversion to an updated version of the system.
Procurement and General Services
In addition to providing the day-to-day administrative support to the Commission, the Division of Procurement and General Services completed several significant initiatives during fiscal year 1997. These accomplishments included major contract awards for the following:
- Personal computers,
- Services of experts,
- Administrative support services for Federal Trade Commission advisors working with the Ukrainian Government.
The Division submitted reports to the Federal Procurement Data Center and the Small Business Administration describing goals and accomplishments in the procurement area for the year. The Division also administered the Commission's credit card purchase program.
Procurement and General Services completed a number of projects. These included reopening the Top of the Trade cafeteria with a renovated and refurbished kitchen, replacing the key card security system in the Headquarters satellite building with one compatible with the system in the main building, overseeing the cleanup and restoration of the satellite building after several floors were flooded by a water pipe rupture, and renovating the Public Reference and Records Processing areas to establish a new Consumer Resource Center. The Division also coordinated with the General Services Administration in the relocation of the Cleveland and Los Angeles regional offices.
Information and Technology Management
Information and Technology Management (ITM) is designed to provide improved information and technology services to its customers - the Commission, agency staff, and the public. The overall mission of ITM is to support and improve the productivity and effectiveness of the Commission's Consumer Protection and Competition Missions through the effective use of information resources. To ensure that its program is providing the services and systems that are most important to its customers, ITM implemented a Board of Directors, which is made up of several senior managers within the Commission, including the Executive Director, Directors of the Bureaus of Competition and Consumer Protection, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Economics, and, as a representative of the regional offices, the Director of the Seattle Regional Office. The Executive Director chairs the Board and also represents the interests of all support organizations throughout the Commission. The Board meets regularly and provides advice and direction to the program, as well as reviewing and approving ITM budget proposals.
ITM efforts for fiscal year 1997 were organized around three basic types of services: (1) providing reliable base systems and services, (2) providing responsive customer support, and (3) continuing the development of products and services begun in previous years.
Providing Reliable Base Systems and Services
Commission staff has come to rely heavily upon many of the systems for which ITM is responsible, including the Local Area Network (LAN), telephone and phonemail systems, the central computing facility, communications with regional offices, facsimile services, personal computers (pc's) on the desktops, local printers, and others. Those systems and services have greatly increased the productivity of the entire agency. However, because the agency relies on those systems, any interruption of service or weaknesses in their operation are dramatically felt by individual staff and the agency as a whole.
In fiscal year 1997, ITM installed new telephone and phonemail systems in the Dallas and Atlanta regional offices; upgraded, and therefore improved performance of, the e-mail servers; connected the Commission's e-mail system to the system at the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division; and updated ITM's Disaster Recovery Plan to include new equipment and processes. ITM purchased and installed more than 250 new Pentium-class pc's on desktops and 40 new laptop computers throughout the agency. ITM also purchased and installed a new video teleconferencing bridge, which resulted in a reduction in operating expenses.
In addition to providing those technological systems, ITM was responsible for providing direct support to Commission staff and the public through training services; maintaining an extensive library collection and providing various types of library services; providing support for investigations and litigation; establishing records management policies and procedures for both paper and electronic records; processing, storing, and retrieving the official records of the agency; providing information and documents to the public, both records that have previously been made public and records that are requested under the Freedom of Information Act; and producing many important publications, including the Commission's Annual Report, Operating and Administrative Manuals, and FTC Decisions. During the year, responsibility for providing public materials through the Public Reference Unit was transferred to the Consumer Response Center in the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Staff from throughout ITM worked closely with the Competition and Economics staff on the Staples matter, providing expert technological advice and assistance to the investigatory and litigatory staff.
Providing Responsive Customer Support
Some of the systems and services that are available through ITM can provide vital support to both Commission staff and the public. However, one of the primary themes of ITM's Board of Directors and individual customers was the need to improve the ease of use, quality, and responsiveness of the core systems and to improve the responsiveness and customer orientation of support services. The systems and services that fall into this category include those provided through the HelpDesk, including pc installation and repair, telephone "trees" used throughout the Commission, and others.
Specifically in fiscal year 1997, ITM began an experiment providing HelpDesk support in the evenings after regular business hours and on weekends to assist Commission staff who work during those hours. ITM staff also conducted special "Litigation Support Expos" for both headquarters and regional office staff, in which presentations and demonstrations explained how available technology can assist in conducting law enforcement investigations and litigations. ITM directly supported the Consumer Response Center by developing special desktop pc's, rewiring the Center's office space, and training and supporting the staff in using their new equipment and systems.
Continuing the Development of Products and Services Begun in Previous Years
In fiscal year 1997, ITM continued to work on several important initiatives designed to provide new or better systems and services. The initiatives begun in previous years that continued in 1997 include:
MIS Replacement.--A new system, the Matter Management System, or MMS, is replacing the Management Information System (MIS) as a tool for assisting in managing the agency's investigations, litigations, rulemaking proceedings, and projects. An intensive analysis of what the Commission needs from such a system was conducted in fiscal year 1995 and was followed by an exhaustive evaluation of commercial, off-the-shelf software packages that would meet those needs. In fiscal year 1996, ITM began to make initial modifications to the selected package and replace the existing MIS with the customized software. The first phase of the new system was implemented in fiscal year 1997. The MMS provides improved operation of the functionality of the existing MIS.
LANDOC.--LANDOC is the Commission's automated document research system. In fiscal year 1997, the LANDOC Steering Committee identified a list of system and process changes needed and established priorities for implementation. ITM also provided several demonstrations of the system to other government agencies that are considering purchasing the underlying commercial software. The collection of documents in LANDOC available to Commission staff and the public was expanded to include over 32,000 documents.
Internet.--In fiscal year 1997, ITM redesigned the Commission's Internet site (www.ftc.gov), and the new site received universal praise as a model of government information dissemination. ITM also added a feature to provide sound to users of the Internet site, in support of a Bureau of Consumer Protection/American Association of Retired Persons project.
Correspondence Control and Consumer Complaint System.--ITM worked closely with the Consumer Protection Mission in fiscal year 1997 to design, develop, and implement the replacement for the Commission's consumer correspondence system, which was created in 1984. The new system, the Consumer Information System, uses current technology and provides considerably enhanced functionality as well as improved ease of operation.